Forget offensive operations, Russia is digging in for defense around Kyiv, Kherson

Smoldering Russian vehicle after a Ukrainian ambush.

This isn’t the sort of thing you expect to see from an invading army:

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What’s this about? Instead of trying to take new territory, Russian invaders are now sweating Ukrainian counterattacks in the region. Look at what’s being reinforced (map from here):

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You can see the little airport icon for Antonov International Airport in Hostomel, and I added the two other towns listed in that tweet, to the left of the map (and circled). In other words, they’re reinforcing the current front lines, under pressure from the current Ukrainian counteroffensive. You can rest assured similar defensive emplacements are going up on all those front-line towns in the area. Would be fun if Ukraine was able to cut off Russian defenders in Hostomel and Bucha. It’s critical that Russia is kept outside furniture range of central Kyiv.

Speaking of artillery range, being out of it makes all the difference to a city. We’ve been following Ukrainian counter-attacks in Southern Ukraine, and in particular the effort toward Kherson from Mykolaiv. Now free of the scourge of MLRS and other artillery barrages, life quickly returns to normal.

For weeks, Mykolaiv was on the front line. Now, with Ukrainian forces pressing a counteroffensive, the Russians have been pushed back and the port city’s 470,000 people are attempting a tentative return to normality.

Coffee shops and some restaurants are open again. Supermarkets have been restocked with fresh groceries. Bank branches have reopened. Municipal buses and trams run the streets. Mothers with children play in playgrounds as the sound of artillery thuds at the distance. Fresh tulips and roses are available in a variety of shades in a row of downtown flower shops.

Reports state that Russia’s besieging army retreated to Kherson, so it might be too well-defended at this point for a head-on assault. Troops in town have been digging in since earlier this week. Ukraine might be happy enough to just free Mykolaiv from most daily terror. And I emphasis “most,” because cruise missiles hit an army barracks that killed at least 40 soldiers. Perhaps it’s small consolation that at least this time, Russia actually targeted a military facility.

Down in Mariupol, hopes of rescue were dashed by Ukrainian general staff, which announced that the closest Ukrainian troops were at least 100 kilometers away. The city should’ve fallen on the first day of the war. It’s a wonder it has lasted this long, and every day it holds out is another miracle. But those days are running out.

Finally, this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen:

That is next level.

Saturday, Mar 19, 2022 · 12:41:20 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

The T-72 tank continues to be the vehicle most likely to be captured, abandoned, or destroyed in this invasion. In production since the 1970s, this was once considered the most formidable tank on the battlefield. When strategists sweated the idea of ​​Russia armor sweeping into West Germany during the Cold War, it was the T-72, with its big 125mm main gun, V-12 Diesel engine, and hybrid steel and composite armor, that generated nightmares.

Now these tanks are serving to illustrate just how long ago that was. The T-72B lost in this action date back to the Soviet era, The T-72B3M is an updated model that, among other improvements, is capable of launching its own anti-armor missiles to take out opposing tanks. That doesn’t seem to have helped in this battle.

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Saturday, Mar 19, 2022 · 12:45:07 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

The convoy of Spanish taxis that set off this week to ferry Ukrainian refugees is back in Madrid this morning, bringing with them over 100 guests. Now another convoy is setting off, this time from the UK

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Saturday, Mar 19, 2022 · 1:00:07 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

If accurate, this could be the most important Russian military officer lost so far in Ukraine. The 8th Army has been in charge of Russian operations in Donbas for the last five years Mordvichev will have been a well-known figure there

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Saturday, Mar 19, 2022 · 1:14:37 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

Russia is now claiming that at least 1 of the 1080 missiles launched into Ukraine was actually a Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” hypersonic missile. These missiles, which Russia demonstrated four years ago, are reported to be capable of speeds up to Mach 10. They’re air launched by specially modified MiG-31Ks, and capable of traveling 1,200 miles in about 10 minutes.

Russia claims to have used the missile to attack an underground warehouse in western Ukraine near the town of Deliatyn on Friday. If so, it would be the first time such a missile was used in combat.

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